You live with dogs long enough, you get used to how smart they are. Relatively speaking. Jasper always expects a Frosty Paws after his walk – an expense I lament, but it gives him such joy – and he BARKS when we get home, demanding what he knows is imminent. Today the fridge was empty, so I went to the downstairs freezer for the back-up reserve. He followed, barking: THIS HAD BETTER RESULT IN WHAT WE ALL KNOW IT HAD BETTER RESULT IN. I showed him the box; he licked his lips. That’s a rather high level of cognition, no? He recognized the box in which the treat was kept. When I gave him the treat it rolled under the counter, and he couldn’t get it out with snout or paws – whereupon he stopped, looked at me, and waited. YOU DO IT.

He talks, too. One of these days I’ll film his morning orations when he’s waiting for everyone to go downstairs and conjure up breakfast. Cicero was never so eloquent in his demands, nor Sophocles so capable of expressing despair.


A day of great industry. The highlight, without a doubt, was calling up a nice old lady in a small town in Minnesota and asking her if she possibly recalled sending in a plot suggestion to a comic strip 61 years ago. This week’s first Lance Lawson strip at thanked a Bernice Buerkle of Fairfax, MN, and a brief bit of googling turned up someone with the name, the right age, and a phone number in Fairfax. So I called her. As noted over at buzz, she knew what I was talking about, and remembered every detail. They’d sent her a copy of the strip, and a nice letter. Then she started reading the letter. Imagine my plussedness at this point – I’d expected her to have no idea what I was talking about, and in the course of three minutes she has a letter from the cartoon’s authors in hand. She explained that she’d come across it while cleaning, and knew where it was. She laughed when I told her that people would be reading her mystery on the internet today. While we spoke, in fact.  Delightful.

And a bit sad in another way I didn’t want to mention –   I’d found her name so easily because it popped up in a June 08 obit for her husband. Which put an entirely different spin on “cleaning.” It’s one of the first things you do after the funeral. Keep yourself busy, keep the memory alive for a while longer, handle the things they handled, learn a few things, find a few new mysteries. The simplest objects can have terrible weight.

Now that I think of it, I have very few Personal Effects. It’s mostly other people’s Personal Effects. Except for some items my Mom saved, like my Cub Scouts kerchief clasp, or my homemade Star Trek communicator.

Hard to scan, but:

The speaking-part was something you put under table legs to keep them from denting the linoleum.

I made that when the original show was on the air, not in reruns. So you can see why I’m looking forward to the new movie. We go way back.

And you can probably understand why I haven’t unwrapped the fireplace remote yet. A few days ago Natalie turned it into a remote that opens a dimensional gateway to Kid’s World, where you can do what you want and eat all the candy you want (without getting fat or getting cavities). It still works, so I’m inclined to leave it be. At the end of the night when I sit down for the 47 minute allotment of TV, I pick it up and smile.

My wife suspects I will save it when Natalie tires of it, and iron it and put it in a plastic bag, and she’s right. I save a lot, but it’s all in giant plastic Ziploc bags, organized chronologically, in bins under the stairs in the basement – a space, incidentally, that the young heir to the Walnettos fortune had as his clubhouse when he was eight, back in the twenties. 

I’m not kidding about the chronological bags. They have DVDs of the yearly movies and photos, too. When it comes to the stuff that doesn’t have to be done, you can count on me to do it. Especially if it means avoiding something that should be done, but can wait a day. Or a month. I’m hopeless.

Aside from that, it was just work and scanning and typing and work. Talked to my dad tonight; he was out hunting for a week. Got a deer. I’m ever amused by the fact me, Mr. Sit Here and Read and Think About Serious Internet Things On the Internet has a father who’s 82, drives a Harley, and goes to the bare end of North Dakota with a rifle to bring down large ruminants. It’s not as if I transfer my respect for him to his pastimes – I don’t hunt, but I have no issue with it, and I grew up with guns on the wall, so I have no fear of their existence. My cycle-riding days, such as they were,  are over. I’m not saying how could a sensitive, artistic soul such as moi have come from such base clay? More like the apple couldn’t fall farther from the tree if it was thrown by Hercules with the wind to his back, but that’s not it either. It’s not Sedentary Guy vs. Man of Action, because I don’t think I’ve sat still for more than 17 minutes in the last 30 years, aside from movies in the theater.  It’s just amusing and amazing.

So the week draws to an end. I leave you with:

Friday’s newspaper column - scroll down to my wee picture on the right-middle side. (Selections, I am ashamed to say, I quoted from memory on the Hewitt show.)

The weekly Restaurant update: ten more swank Diners and Cafes from the age before the chains.

A Diner, tossed off in an hour because I said I would have one. (It does have a little payoff for people who heard the previous one.)

See you at, and perhaps the Screedblog if I get the time. Thanks for the patronage; have a grand weekend.